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Friday, 24 October 2008

Squarefootball Diary - Tuesday October 21 2008

There's a Champions League goal glut this Tuesday, with English sides among those testing out the netting.

Not so the Scottish, as Manchester United sail past Celtic 3-0 in Group E.  Two suspiciously offside looking Dimitar Berbatov strikes preceed Wayne Rooney's 99th career goal to leave United leading the table from Villarreal on goal difference.  The Spanish side are involved in a nine-goal shoot-out, beating Aalborg 6-3;

"Dimitar showed some fantastic pieces of football." reckons Fergie;

"I also think the other players are beginning to understand what type of player he is." he adds, narrowly avoiding words like 'lazy' and 'sulker'.

For his part Gordon Strachan takes it on the chin, but leaves no doubt as to what is on his mind;

"The two goals were offside, but I'm not going to scream about them." he huffs.   

Arsenal hit five at Fenerbahce, manging also to concede two on their way to a two-point lead at the top of Group G.  A goalless first 10 minutes gives way to mayhem as Emmanuel Adebayor and Theo Walcott score in the space of two minutes, only for debutant Mikael Silvestre to put through his own goal on 19.  Abou Diaby restores the two-goal cushion just two minutes later and it is 4-1 just after half-time thanks to Alex Song.  Dani Guiza reduces the arrears with 12 minutes remaining but the final word goes to Aaron Ramsey in injury time;

"Both teams were going forward 100% but the fact we scored an early goal forced Fenerbahce to come out and we caught them many times on the counter-attack." explains a beaming Arsene, thankful to have at last faced a team misguided enough to open the game up.

Dynamo Kiev are the Gunners' nearest challengers at the moment after their 1-0 win at FC Porto.

Bayern Munich top Group F after beating Fiorentina 3-0, while Lyon are two points behind in second after a 5-3 win at Steaua Bucharest.

Predictably Group H is looking like a straight fight between Juventus and Real Madrid.  The former lead by one point after beating the latter 2-1 in Turin, while UEFA Cup holders Zenit St.Petersburg are held to a 1-1 draw by Bate Borisov.

No time to catch a breath with a full list of Football League fixtures to get through.  A very late Garry O'Connor goal gives Birmingham City a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, taking them two points clear at the top after Wolves are thrashed 5-2 at Norwich City.  Reading lead the chase after beating Doncaster Rovers 2-1, while other play-off slots are held by Bristol City (2-0 winners at Charlton), Cardiff City (held 2-2 at Watford) and Burnley who emerge from Coventry with a 3-1 success.

Nottingham Forest are bottom after a 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town, while Barnsley's 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday isn't quite enough to get them out of the drop zone.  That's because Southampton earn a point in a 0-0 draw at Sheffield United, while Plymouth beat Preston North End 1-0 to leap-frog both Swansea City and QPR who draw 0-0 at the Liberty Stadium.  Derby County's run of seven games unbeaten ends with a 3-2 reverse at Blackpool.

Scunthorpe United and Millwall are now neck and neck at the top of League One.  Scunthorpe draw 1-1 at home to Southend United while Millwall win 2-1 at Colchester United.  Leicester City and Leeds United stay in touch but the Foxes may rue the two points lost from their 2-2 home draw with Walsall.  Meanwhile Gary McAllister's side beat Leyton Orient 2-1 and are fourth.  Oldham Athletic are still fifth despite going down 2-0 to mid-table Bristol Rovers, with the final play-off berth occupied by Southend.  The MK Dons miss the chance to join the party, losing 2-1 at home to Stockport County.

Peterborough United and Tranmere Rovers join the Dons on 19 points from 12 games after a draw 0-0 with Brighton and Hove Albion and a 2-0 win over Cheltenham Town respectively.

At the other end the O's are mired in among the bottom four as Yeovil Town beat Crewe Alexandra 3-2.  That loss, coupled with Hereford United's 1-0 victory over Carlisle United means the Railwaymen are left propping up the division.  Swindon Town beat Northampton Town 2-1 to earn some respite while Hartlepool have the better of an eight-goal jamboree, winning 5-3 at home to Huddersfield Town.

Brentford are League Two's big gainers, although their 3-1 win over Morecambe isn't quite enough to take them top of the pile.  That honour still belongs to Wycombe Wanderers who are held 1-1 at struggling Barnet.  Bury hang on to third despite losing 3-1 to Rotherham United.  Shrewsbury Town grasp desperately on to the first play-off place after their 2-1 loss at Accrington Stanley, while Exeter move above Dagenham and Redbridge with a 3-1 win at Port Vale coupled with the Daggers 2-1 loss at Bournemouth.  Gillingham remain just off the pace after they draw 2-2 with Notts County.

Bournemouth remain in the minuses points-wise despite their win, but spare a thought for Luton Town whose 2-2 draw at Grimsby Town is only good enough to take them to -17 points on the league ladder.  Just outside the drop zone but looking safe already are Chester City who are larupped 6-1 by Rochdale.

Lincoln City's 2-1 win at Macclesfield Town completes the agenda.

By Stephen Orford

24 October 2008      

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